Minn. lawmaker under fire for 'racist' NBA tweet

NBA logo is displayed on a pair of socks during a game.
NBA logo is displayed on a pair of socks during a game.

A Minnesota state lawmaker became the subject of criticism Sunday night after posting a comment on Twitter about the National Basketball Association that many are calling racist.

More than 1,475 Twitter users retweeted Republican State Rep. Pat Garofalo's message to their own accounts by late Monday morning. Nearly 400 individuals marked the tweet as a "favorite," an action similar to the "like" function on Facebook.

Some public officials took to Twitter to respond to Garofalo's comment, asking how long he has been a racist, declaring he lacks self-awareness and pointing out there are more criminal politicians than NBA athletes. Ryan Vernosh, the 2010 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, said he was alarmed at the message.

Garofalo responded to some of the backlash, acknowledging one user's claim that there are more corrupt people in politics than in sports. He called another individual's comment about the National Football League having more convicted felons than the NBA a "fair point."

The lawmaker told local media his tweet was meant to refer to the NBA's high arrest rate because it is the only professional sports league that doesn't consider testing positive for marijuana a substance abuse violation.

Garofalo similarly encountered negative reactions from the public last July when he tweeted about a Minnesota educators union being a "liberal hate group."